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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Man

I heard two stories today, both were about one man's outsized influence on society. The first one I heard from my doctor. It was about the "evils of fat" theory that swept across this country recently. When did it start? 30, 40 years ago? It has only recently been been refuted, and there are probably still pockets of resistance holding on to it. In any case, the spread of this "theory" was primarily the work of one man, who just kept repeating his story over and over again, telling it to anyone who would listen, and evidently a lot of people listened and almost no one bothered to check up on his story.

The second was a story I started reading in the October issue of Discover magazine. It was about the relationship between the ratio of men to women and the political climate in this country. On average, over the long term, the ratio of male to female babies is about even. There are slightly more men than women born, about 107 men to 100 women. However, this is the long term average. On a short term basis the ratio can vary as much as 30%. In some years you might only have 70 males born to every 100 females. Other years might be the opposite. Also, the number of births varies every year, sometimes fewer than 3 million, sometimes more than 4 million. What this means is that when it comes time to choose a marriage partner the ratio of available men to available women may be very far from even.

One guy was doing some research on this and he found that when the number of men exceeded the number of women, the country became more conservative. When the opposite happened, the country became more liberal.

This man was planning to write a book suitable for the public. Unfortunately, he died before he finished it. His son took up his work and eventually published his findings, but they were only published in an academic journal and did not receive wide publicity. The popular version of the book was never produced, so it is only now that his research is becoming common knowledge.

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